West Point Grads Gather For Founder's Celebration
April 7, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - The word "founder's day" is usually linked to the fathers of United States, but for some select officers it is a reason to celebrate.
U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduates and candidates from across Central Texas gathered at the Fort Hood Catering and Conference Center wearing "rally gear," or a mix of old sports uniforms and other school themed gear, to celebrate the founding of the oldest military academy April 4.
Lt. Col. Carmine Cicalese, class of 1987, one of the key organizers of the event, kept the group of more than 300 entertained with jokes and his old physical fitness uniform between dinner and the speeches of the dean, the oldest graduate and the youngest graduate.
The dean, Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, talked to the attendees about the improvements and changes that have occurred over the years.
"The biggest thing that has changed is all the new facilities," said Maj. Dhania Hunt, the 1st Cavalry Division deputy security operations officer. "The new library is just beautiful, and I had the chance to visit the new gym which is also absolutely outstanding. Academics haven't changed much but the facilities have."
The 1993 graduate also enjoyed hearing about the students who give up their summers to study abroad.
"That is an outstanding program," Hunt said. "They can get that much exposure at a point so young in their career. It is going to enhance everything that they do when they get to their regular Army unit."
She also enjoyed visiting with old friends and reflecting on the path that led her to who she is today.
"My dad was in the Reserves. That was how I was introduced to the idea of West Point," she said. "After I saw the videos, I really thought it was kind of like a calling. I never went to see the school before I was actually a cadet, but it was the things that they said they were going to teach you, like the morals and values about the school that appealed to me... and the fact that I wouldn't have to worry about what I was going to wear every day to school."
It was kind of a shock weather-wise for the Houston native though.
"It was the first time that I saw snow and the four seasons with leaves changing," she said.
Cold weather aside, she enjoyed that time as a "rebel rouser," or cheerleader, and also enjoyed reminiscing at the celebration with old friends.
"It has been a lot of fun to be able to catch up with my classmates, some who I haven't talked to in 15 years and also students that I taught when I was an instructor," said Hunt who graduated in 1993 and returned a few years later to teach at the school.